The food we eat every day comes from agricultural biodiversity, which contributes directly to food security, nutrition and well-being. The types of foods grown and the ways they are produced impact agricultural biodiversity, which in turn, impacts our health.
Human health and the health of the environment are interlinked.
Food production has rapidly increased as a response to the recent spike in population growth. This demand has led to an increase in homogenous varieties as a result of farmers abandoning local types. This, amongst many other factors, has led to severe lessening of agricultural diversity, resulting in the extinction of valuable species and loss of biodiversity, which contributes to poor nutrition. Globally we are reliant on twelve crops and five animals to provide more than 75 percent of our food supply. We’re planting and eating the same foods repeatedly – leaving our bodies and our land deprived of precious nutrients. With an alarming rise in overweight and obesity, in tandem with a steady incline in micronutrient deficiencies and diseases with food-related causes, it’s no secret that we’re not eating the right foods in the right amounts.
The journey to improve human and planetary health can be one and the same.
The good news is that the best foods for our health – green vegetables, mushrooms, beans/legumes, nuts, seeds, grains and cereals – are also better for the environment. There are plenty of these foods, we just aren’t eating them. In fact, there are between 20,000 and 50,000 edible plant species and we’re only eating between 150 and 200.
Eat the Future 50 Foods for healthier people and a healthier planet.
That’s why Knorr and WWF-UK joined forces to identify 50 of the foods that are nutritious, have a lower environmental impact, can be added to everyday meals, taste good, and can be accessible and affordable. The Future 50 Foods report starts by outlining the food system issues, then goes on to identify 50 foods from all over the globe to which we need to pay more attention.
It drives attention to the need to eat a wide variety of nutritious plant-based foods to provide the multiple nutrients required for human health. The first criterion was the nutrient density score based on the Nutrient Rich Foods Index 15.3 and that each food contains a significant amount of critical nutrients. Spinach has the highest amount of nutrients per calorie and soy has the most protein, almost three times more than an egg. From nitrogen fixing Bambara groundnuts to cover crop cowpeas, many of them can grow in harsh conditions, some take up little to no precious land, a few are draught resistant, many produce a higher yield compared to similar crops, and several act as natural fertilizers and soil nourishers.
All of them can be part of delicious, everyday meals and each has a story to tell.